Following an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), patients largely didn't exercise as directed, researchers found.
The PULSE study gave 620 patients hospitalized for an ACS an Actical accelerometer, a wristwatch-like device providing activity counts in 1-minute intervals throughout the day. Only 16% of patients met physical activity guidelines at 5 weeks post-discharge, according to Ian M. Kronish, MD, MPH, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues.
The authors analyzed data from the 52.9% of the cohort that wore the device for at least 10 hours a day, at least 3 days a week during the first 35 days after discharge, they explained in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
However, patients grew more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines over time. Those recommendations call for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least 5 days per week within 2 weeks of discharge.
"Our data suggest that remarkably few patients are achieving targets for physical activity after ACS. Our estimates are substantially lower than those on the basis of self-report," the authors wrote.
Mean age of the study population was 62.9, and 31.2% were women. There were no differences found between those who did and didn't return accelerometers with sufficient data.
"Limitations of our findings include the moderate sample size, enrollment from a single center, accelerometer noncompliance, and inability to assess physical activity during non-wear time," according to Kronish's group.
They concluded that there is an "urgent need to implement interventions that increase physical activity after ACS." Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation is one approach to counteracting traditional fears of exercise after heart attack, they suggested, though such programs don't get enough participation.
Alternatively, "objectively monitoring physical activity and providing real-time feedback to patients and clinicians may be a disseminable approach for increasing physical activity in ACS survivors," they stated.
The study was supported by the NIH and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Kronish disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.
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